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Former JCSO deputy found guilty on 19 out of 67 charges

Published: May. 18, 2021 at 2:00 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 2:25 PM CDT
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MARIANNA, Fla (WCTV) - A jury has found former Jackson County deputy Zachary Wester guilty of planting drugs during three traffic stops.

The jury deliberated for about seven and a half hours over two days before reaching verdicts on each of the 67 counts against Wester.

Wester was found guilty of racketeering and other charges linked to the traffic stops of Teresa Odom, Joshua Emanuel and Steven Vann. Wester was found guilty on a total of 19 counts including official misconduct, fabricating evidence, perjury, false imprisonment and possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.

Here’s a breakdown of the charges:

  • 1 count of racketeering
  • 3 counts of official misconduct
  • 3 counts of perjury
  • 3 counts of fabricating evidence
  • 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance
  • 3 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia
  • 2 counts of false imprisonment

The jury found him not guilty of all charges linked to the remaining nine motorists, a total of 48 counts.

Wester was arrested in 2019 and accused of planting meth on unsuspecting motorists during a dozen traffic stops.

Prosecutors claimed Wester kept the drugs in his patrol car along with an already positive drug field test. They relied heavily on body camera footage from Wester and other assisting deputies to make their case against him.

Wester has denied planting the drugs and falsifying the arrest reports and testified in his own defense during the trial.

The judge dismissed the jury Tuesday afternoon and promptly adjudicated Wester guilty. He ordered a pre-sentence investigation and ordered Wester into custody to await sentencing.

WCTV is reaching out to Wester’s defense attorney for comment as well as Assistant State Attorney Tom Williams who prosecuted the case.

The judge says the pre-sentence investigation hearing will take place on Monday, May 24.

You can watch the moment the verdict was read, which aired live on the WCTV Facebook page, below. (Note: The verdict is read around the 33-minute mark in the stream)

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